Editing, editing, editing…

It is the bane of my existence.

The ridiculous perfectionism that forces me to drag out a project soooo long, reducing the process of creation to a chore, grinding away on a tale or a novel until I feel nothing but revulsion for it.

I was determined it was going to be different with my novel Of the Night. Wrote the first few drafts last fall, presented Sherron with a fairly decent version just before Christmas. I intended to get back to it in late spring but other projects and obligations precluded that. Finally started going through the manuscript earlier this month and I feel myself falling into the same old traps. Bearing down too hard, scrutinizing every single syllable, having the eternal comma-versus-semi-colon debate yet again. Grrr.

So I’ve given myself an absolute deadline. Time to put the pedal to the metal on this baby. I keep telling myself, “this ain’t Ulysses, dope”.

Of the Night is entertainment, pure and simple. It’s short–only about 160 pages–fast, longer on plot and shorter on characterization than my previous novel,  So Dark-excerpt.   It’s not a direct sequel to So Dark but it is set in the same city, same universe. Totally different cast of characters and atmosphere.

You’ll be seeing it soon. Sporting another cover by the inimitable Ado Ceric, if he can manage it. Do pop over and check out his site some time, it will blow your mind. It’s a pleasure working with someone like Ado–we draw from similar sources of inspiration and his vision is ideally suited for my oddball fiction. I know he’ll come up with something terrific for Of the Night and that the finished book will be a fun and compelling read.

As soon as I get finished fucking editing it, that is. But the deadline helps and I think come late summer I’ll have it ready.

Stay tuned

6 comments

  1. Don

    Wow, good post. Those first two lines were very well written, made me want to keep reading. 😉

    I found that deadlines are good. But I think that from now on I will give myself two deadlines; a soft deadline and a hard deadline. The soft would be the one I aim for and the hard one would be for extra buffer.

    Good luck with the editing.

  2. Gary Murning

    “this ain’t Ulysses, dope”

    The best tagline I’ve ever heard — where can I buy a copy?!

    My problem is, I probably don’t edit enough. I’ve always been fond of using six words when one will do, so I have to force myself to work at it really methodically, being utterly merciless with myself.

    I usually get the six words down to five!

  3. Mike on the road

    Hey can I ask a question of a fellow perfectionist? Is it necessary?

    Personally I wrote 11 books and registered the ISBN numbers for them as publisher between 1999 and 2001. The shorest time to finish one was 6 weeks and the longest one was 8 weeks.

    So I go on for years avoiding the process the publishing world calls editing.

    Then I contact one of the world’s most prestigious publishers and tell them my story that I wrote these books and I haven’t a clue to editing and each time I try I feel the book loses the beauty. Three months ago I sent a first draft unedited of the first one to the President who will personally read all of the others I send.

    Perfectionism destroys the genesis of a book and I was so relieved that all I had to do was let it go and have a life of its own. And then I was free again to write and have three in the works right now. All I can do is write them. Publishers have editing departments. That’s what they do. Give suggestions and edit. Write and send. Write and send. Its the idea that one can write them that produces results, but I have no results to report yet. As long as I don’t quit I am still a writer and still have the opportunity to publish. Right? Wrong? Who cares!!! There is no right or wrong way. I truly believe this.

    What do you think of that? especially when I just posted on my blog Mike on the Road….
    You know what they say about borderline geniuses+

  4. kswolff

    I’m with you there, Cliff. I blame my reading Evelyn Waugh and Proust. You can’t top that kind of writing. And on the other end of the spectrum, Beckett and Hemingway. Either way, you lose.

    In the editing process, I trust other people’s eyes. If they know what’s going on and I don’t have to be didactic, then I’ve succeeded. Then the rest of it is coming to terms with the tastes of other people and your own. The Ideal Reader doesn’t exist.

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